Between Father’s Days

Me and Dad, April 2005

Me and Dad, April 2005

For the first 30 years of my life, I celebrated Father’s Day by paying tribute to my father, though not necessarily always well. I celebrated Father’s Day during my college years by taking off work for the weekend, driving up from Baltimore, and playing tennis with Good Joe. But my dad was at least present on my mind. For the next seven years, I honored his memory by creating a routine of watching Big Fish, rereading a story I wrote about him, and writing about him on a blog no one read for what I called “Father’s Week.” Last year, I became a father.

I look forward very much to the days when Mabel is old enough to want to do something special for her daddy. But sadly, I’m not sure a 0-year-old really understands the concept of celebrating something more today than you did yesterday. She doesn’t even really understand the concept of object permanence yet, and likely just assumes that Jenn disappears into the train station for 10 hours a day. If there comes a time when she wants to make daddy some dry, misshapen pancakes hours before I’d rather be awake, I will happily indulge her. But until then, I’m between Father’s Days.

The hat doesn't make me look good. I make me look good.

The hat doesn’t make me look good. I make me look good.

As an at-home dad who spends on average 163 of 168 hours per week with my daughter, the concept of going out with her doesn’t appeal to me any more than it does any other day. That’s not special. That’s my job (which, by the way, is the greatest job there could ever be in the world, and I’m so very grateful to my wife for allowing me this opportunity). So I went to a movie last year. By myself. That was different. That was special. Though it was the crappy new Superman, so maybe hiding in the basement while streaming Arrested Development might have been a day better spent. But still, that’s what I wanted to do.

This year, I’m going golfing for the first time since D-Day almost two years ago (if I can dig my clubs out from a mound of outgrown jumpers, strollers, and 30-gallon containers of poop-stained onesies), because I have the opportunity and it’s what I want to do. Which is great. But it doesn’t feel like Father’s Day. It feels counterintuitive to celebrate being a dad by leaving my child for longer than I’ve been apart from her in her lifetime. But I suppose that’s what I’m relegated to in the position that I’m in for another few years. And I look forward to the days when Mabel hops on a train, comes back from college for the weekend, and plays tennis with her high school friend.

7 thoughts on “Between Father’s Days

  1. As a stay-at-home dad to our 7 month old, I totally can relate to the desire of wanting a day to yourself. I know I won’t get that this year; my first year to celebrate, but that’s okay. When I do, I’d like to just sit and watch the Ninja Turtle movie. Completely random, but I grew up with those guys and they were the best thing ever then!

    I somewhat agree with looking forward to the day your daughter comes back to visit from college, but I can wait for that; time is already going way too fast!

    Happy Father’s Day man!

    • With Mabel about to turn two, I look forward to an age when I can watch movies and play chess with her, but I also don’t ever want her to get any older. So yeah, I’ll wait for those college days too.

      And I know I’m not alone by any means. According to Good Morning America, 66% of dads would rather be golfing on Father’s Day anyway. I hope you get to enjoy the Ninja Turtle movie someday. If I ever want to get that way-back feeling, I just listen to the Duck Tales theme song and all of a sudden, it’s 4:00 on a weekday afternoon and I’m back in middle school again.

  2. It 8s tough sometimes, but as stay at home dads, even we need days to ourselves. And while they may be few and far between, I’m sure your wife is like mine and totally understands. Probably felt weird going to the movies huh? Not the by yourself part, but the being without your daughter part. We earn those rare days to ourselves or with buddies. I played poker last night and we drank til about 130am and then watched some of the funniest drunken shenanigans as we drove through Fells Pt. Great Night!
    Chloe says “Happy Father’s Day Daddy, what do you want to do for Father’s Day”. I know inside this means taking her to the playground or going to the lake, so yeah I know what ya mean, but your day will become great again soon 🙂

    • Ha. Yeah, going to the playground for Father’s Day probably isn’t my idea of a special time. When do they start to want to make pancakes in bed? 5? 7? 13? Anyway, I certainly don’t mind taking some time to myself, and I’ll take it when I can get it.

  3. Hi Dustin. This a very good piece. I too felt this way on Mother’s Day the first year I celebrated but this year I realized a different reality of how and what was being celebrating. On this and every future Father’s Day is a chance for everyone to show you how much you are appreciated for your fatherhood, not just Mabel. You are part of a team raising Mabel and a community of stay at home dads. I don’t want you to feel that this day won’t really kick into gear until Mabel can make you pancakes you can’t eat when I can make you freshly squeezed orange juice, hash browns and eggs to make your day more than normal! And you wanting to spread your wings a bit and either watch a movie or golf is a great way this year for you to have a day to relax. I’m sure someday when you don’t see Mabel all day being with her will be a top priority for you both. So go out today and enjoy the lovely weather and the fact you haven’t changed a diaper today :). Happy father’s Day

    • Thanks, honey! I wasn’t sure you knew my web address. 😉

      And thanks so much for the freshly squeezed OJ and the hash browns. Both were an excellent surprise. Also, after having been away from Mabel all day between football and golf, I think my favorite part of the day was when I met you at the pool and she came running up to give me a hug and then playing with her in the big pool for the next half hour. She even gave me an impromptu “I love you, daddy.” It was a great Father’s Day. I look forward to leaving both of you again very soon so I can miss you all day.

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